Friday, 25 April 2008

Synchronism

In the 70s-80s, in that far land called Romania, when it seemed farther than imaginable from any sane reality, there was a very well-rehearsed and effective way of focusing attention away or toward something.

Not that Ceausescu invented it, it was known in Ancient Egypt... But it consisted of miraculously and perfectly timed coincidences, revelations, communiques... just when some very hard-to-swallow measure was to be introduced.

When tightening of food rations came, we always had some major upheaval about some imperialist threat, spies, dissidents publishing something bad about the country etc. and this was blown up in every piece of printed or electronic media, ad nauseam for weeks.

It is interesting to see such remarkable, desperately wanting to seem accidental, synchronism in the UK nowadays.

The threat is, of course, a terrorist one.

When the Government wanted to introduce the 28 day limit for being able to hold suspects without charge, amazingly, just when the proposal was to be presented in the Parliament, many raids occurred that arrested newly discovered terrorist cells. Also, even blueprints of airport terminals were found accidentally, dumped near the airport.

The series of amazing coincidences continued.

And now, that there is an equally controversial (and equally impossible to support with hard facts) proposal about 42 days, we have again remarkable synchronism.

Not 2 months, not 2 weeks ago, now... again many plots are uncovered. Statistics on other successfully defused plans are published. Propaganda on imminent threats again flares up.

The only thing that is very annoying at this point: even those who have not seen these classic methods of manipulation used before would realise what is going on by now.

So... just how dumb does the Government think people are? But maybe, maybe, they got it right and it does work :-)

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

New orthodoxies

There isn't really a faith crisis. We may have lost our 'traditional' and well-established faiths, but we have acquired new ones. These new ones are now rapidly, truly rapidly, raised to the level of new orthodoxy (or orthodoxies even). The sure signs of these is when it is impossible to have any rational debate or even voice facts - even facts, in opposition with the central credo, are labelled immediately as heresies and the people daring to raise them are enemies of the faith, even public enemies in many cases.

One of them is of course, saving the planet, being green and reducing CO2 footprint. Apart from the scientific battle, it is a hugely successful, enormously wide-spread marketing engine. Any product that has utterly ran out of steam, resurfaces now with renewed vibrancy (at least in terms of PR and adverts) under the cloak of newly acquired greenness. Even humble washing up liquid is much greener now, because it comes in more concentrated form and hence takes less lorries to transport it... Just one example of truly insane twisted rationale.

There are better and funnier issues, too. UK introduces 5% compulsory biofuel quota, but a survey by Oxfam reveals that this caused enormous harm to food production where it is most needed, millions of people's welfare and also cut enormous areas of forests - all because plantations were put in place to produce stuff for biofuel.

Heathrow extension is also green - it will reduce CO2 emissions in the area. What they didn't say: it hasn't reduced anything, it just spread it around - as there will be a tunnel leading to that area, so all that happens is that the traffic pollution is distributed. But on global scale, it has exactly the same effect and nothing is reduced.

Parallels and contrasts can go on forever. Earth Hour vs. its fountainhead travelling on long-haul flights discussing being green for one hour. Earth Hour vs. China pollution statistics, oops, we have too many economic interests to even dare name & shame them. Earth Hour vs. BA flying empty 747's just to avoid losing their airport slots in NY and Singapore and Tokyo...

We are establishing an eco-warrior soft fascism, a new creed, an absolute dogma even, while fundamental things that actually matter are left untouched and we focus on the size of our washing-up liquid. Because those fundamental things can not be changed without an overhaul of fundamental economic laws - and of course the latter is impossible to change. Some tried in 1918, it took 80 years to realise the new world order is a complete failure. So...

Another orthodoxy is healthy eating. We devour vitamin supplements, gazillion banal soft drinks and fruity thingies claim they are saturated with anti-oxidants, we prolong life by eating and drinking the myriad new concoctions sold at hefty prices. There are acres of vitamin pills in every supermarket, all shouting: prolong your life! stay young, even.

Then science comes. Omega3 oils have absolutely ZERO actual effect on all, except one effect manufacturers of various Omega3-enriched products claim to have. Recent long-term study on vitamins showed that devouring often 10-50 times daily normal amounts of vitamin A & E actually reduce life expectancy and cause immune system problems. It just confirms common sense and knowledge of 5th grade biology. Same goes for various bacterium culture-enriched yogurts, that showed that effect is utterly random, in some cases may deliver what it claims, but mostly, can increase the population of harmful bacteria in the digestive track.

But not many people will change their shopping habits and not many will stop buying cubic feet of pills that they take every day to prolong their life. It all works, but only for the marketing people, because it IS a new faith.

And whatever science says, it just bounces off the teflon coating of ignorance combined with successful propaganda that fuels non-factual, extremely biased, partial truth-based orthodoxies.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Freedom of... suspicion

Some even louder parallels recently... in a free country like the UK, where on top of historically having freedom of speech, thought, expression of any kind, now we have the freedom (and encouragement) to be suspicious and paranoid.

In Romania, we had and still have signs around any 'strategically important' buildings - a camera crossed out, telling you: no photography allowed.

In the 70s, I got used to this idiocy, as the regime really thought: any imperialist spy will come in person and take pictures at street level, rather than use any of its spy satellites. The only change in Romania in this area is that the signs in many cases got replaced with a stylised picture of a more up-to-date SLR camera... The stupidity remained.

In UK, there is a poster campaign. It actually tells the public to report, or even challenge people with cameras if they look or act 'suspicious'.

So far we 'only' had British police literally attacking and abusing perfectly innocent photographers, from amateur to professional (no, these stories are not about paparazzi). As regularly reported by reputable organisations like Bureau of Freelance Photographers, many members have been subjected to absolute abuse of absolute power.

But now, finally, we can get the already paranoid and brainwashed public to even physically attack photographers, as it happened to tourists recently, semi-pros and pros.

Not sure how you have to act so that you don't seem 'suspicious' to some crazed idiot running hyper on such propaganda, convinced that everybody is a terrorist. There are, unfortunately, many such people here, maybe the boring weather is the problem. Who knows... but the paranoia inducing, blatantly incendiary media campaigns somehow have some influence...

The "price is worth paying" they say and even the Government is actively agreeing that we ALL need to do "something". Even if "something" goes against fundamental human rights.

It is OK- finally, at least they openly (but without realising) admit that the War on Terror is one perfect political manipulation tool to control every minute of your life, even when you walk around taking snaps of Big Ben.

The interests are in inducing mass paranoia, divert attention from real problems - and this, too is a classic Stalinist method so familiar to anybody who lived in the Communist block. To see this so openly strutted in a so-called "free country" is breathtaking.

Not only that it is spine chillingly manipulative, it is very effective- judging from just the number of abuse cases so far, involving members of the public and police, acts directed against... mostly normal members of the public.

In the 21st century, a camera and a person taking picture of a building is a potential terrorist threat... Of course, as terrorists don't have Google Earth and vast image databases to work with. Oh, really, it is pointless to even discuss it- I just wish it was just simply stupid as the Stalinist measure of the same kind.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Riding the wave

Hillary Clinton happened to have the thought (or her advisers had the idea) of asking the quite competent standup comedian & improvisation artist George Bush to boycott the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Now there have been similar talks in Britain, should we or should we not boycott the Games. What strikes me is how suddenly figures with quite some political might (and at the same time, deep-rooted connections with business circles) come out of the woodwork, stampeding to put on an anti-China, pro-human and pro-ethnic minority rights apron, then starting to cook their PR stunts.

Hillary needs votes, needs votes, needs lots of votes... so why not ride the wave of protests, pro-Tibet, anti-China, you name it. At the same time, her party has just a few ;-) minor business interests linked to China and the very circles that don't even dare naming & shaming China in any pertinent discussion on awkward topics regarding the country's certain behavioural patterns or, heaven forbid, ethical conduct.

It truly is the pinnacle of hypocrisy.

While these prominent figures of world politics and/or economy strut their newly found militant masque they found in the shed just the previous night, after watching the TV footage on the demonstrations, the people that would really be hit are the athletes.

Could you, dear Hillary, Supreme Madame of Human Rights Campaigns and Dame With Selective Amnesia when it comes to ethnic issues, human rights and business connections eliminating swiftly any human or ethic considerations when dealing with the certain country, explain to... oh I don't know... 13 years old Tom Daley, a diving phenomenon about to go to the first and definitely not last Olympic Games of his so far infinitesimally short life, that he can not attend due to some anti-China initiative?

I am sure he will understand, and will also make abstraction of the fact that many people shouting like mad about the moment on this topic have houses built of glass... and as an old saying goes, they really should not be throwing stones.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Idealism

I have encountered a few reasons for demonstrating, toppling a regime, manifesting opinions in my 'previous life' under Ceausescu. Of course, impotence was linked to all the above acts until 1989.

The Olympic torch went through London... well, kinda... because it was disrupted, despite atrocious return of winter, by anti-China demonstrators. Or should I say, pro-Tibet demonstrators.

I would have one, admittedly sad, advice to them. It is pointless so stay at home in the warmth. I'm not referring to what 'vox populi' can do to change certain major world-impacting events (after all, we know what it can or rather can't do after more than 1 million people demonstrating against good old Tony Blair going to war against Iraq...).

I am talking about how we, yes, WE are actually building that superpower we are talking about.

No, it is not just building itself and becoming the next economic, industrial superpower. We are actively enabling it to become one, despite any human rights or whatever philosophical reasons there may be against it becoming one.

China can not and was not named even, nobody dared to name it, in the recent global summit against piracy. When confronted about this at a press conference, according to the unedited video footage, nobody among the organisers responded to the question as to why not for days, nobody named the main global source of counterfeited products.

On that panel, there were people who were not industrialists or businessmen with thousands of billions of dollars linked to China. No, there were people like the head of Interpol. Still, not even he dared to respond to the probing question.

The same goes for any conversation, press conference, speech on global warming or whatever. Human rights. You name it. If it's China, the thousands of billions represent interests that go beyond any such fluffy topic as Tibet, human or whatever rights.

Nobody questioned officially why China has not joined any of the (valid or overblown) measures or gestures in the new environmental obsessions. When Gordon Brown visits, press goes on about why he has not discussed human rights. Human rights? compared to the economical interests? Oh come off it.

Let's come in from the cold miserable London weather.

There are revolutions, demonstrations, assertions that worth doing and they are those that are utter waste of time.

Nobody will confront China.

From our cheaper T-shirts to huge industrial projects, China is the answer - nobody among our businessmen and politicians will dare to even name it. I was told by BBC that 'Chinese government officials are sensitive to their country receiving bad press'.

Read: if they are 'sensitive' to being named for what they are, an out of control, disgraceful reverberation of Stalinism on all levels and all aspects, then WE can not irritate them.

Sorry guys in the cold today, but we will LET China do whatever they want in whatever ways they want. Come in from the cold.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Safety.... even more safety...

It really is an evergreen topic, but a few things once again showed that people defining measures and rules for e.g. airport security should really be a bit more honest and admit what the measures are really about.

May one ask what is the hardcore security & safety benefit of the following situations:

- certain major airports in a given city like London introduce a hand luggage restriction 'relaxation' whereby more than one item can be taken onboard. While this takes effect, other major airports in same city still have single hand luggage item restriction in place for months.

- furthemore, the restrictions and checks' rules are different in one direction and again different in the opposite direction. Ironically, while restrictions were in place, you could take more items INTO the oh-so-frightened country but less could be taken OUT from that country. Makes sense, doesn't it?

- laptops finally can be taken through the security checks IN the bag and not taken out any more into a separate tray. But flying in from other airports, they still check laptops separately. Right, so in this case there is stricter check coming INTO the paranoia country than going OUT. Which then contradicts other regulations and their random application by homo sapiens.

- a metal belt I wear sets of some machines, some never, some always, others sometimes beep or not. It is totally random because their sensitivity levels are set to God knows what and differs from airport to airport. Sorry to ask but: if a certain amount of metal is considered a danger and makes me take off the belt, then it is either a danger or NOT. It does not vary based on the moon phase, location of airport, which gate I go through or what is the wind direction that day.

- ah, but if this is allowable and the limit can vary, how come 100ml limit on liquids are absolute?...

- liquids are restricted to 100ml. Of course, because 98ml of liquid explosive is perfectly fine, but 101 ml is already totally dangerous? Yes, OK, one needs a hard limit, but come on, let's not write comic rules...

- if you are above the 100ml limit, they throw the item away! (secure destruction? no! just throw them into a bin). It would only make sense if you were afraid of creating something from mixtures of liquids on-board. Otherwise, how come it is so safe to randomly dispose of hand cream that can NOT be taken through security as potential dangerous thing masked as hand cream ?

- side note: the staff member asked about whether the cosmetics confiscated like that are donated to charity etc., the reaction was a stupified face. NO, they are not, they are simply thrown away. So of course, on one hand, you buy more and more if they get confiscated, as you buy for the second time inside the secure area of the airport.

- bags INSIDE the secure area of the airport , where according to the shop managers, items are checked by security when re-stocking, have to be transparent. So what is , excuse me, the security risk of an item that one buys (maybe for the second time if he/she was dumb enough to have it confiscated by security staff at checkpoint) inside that SAFE area where 'ANYTHING you buy you can fly with' BUT still can not be concealed in a non-transparent bag, so that you don't advertise to the entire airport what you bought as a gift to whoever??

How long should this list go, at the level of BASIC logic?

I'll stop here, as it is highly sufficient to conclude: these are not security or safety measures.

These are, on one hand, definitely helping paranoia with no real addition to security and safety levels of a normal check, proof being in blatant internal contradictions of the whole set of rules.

On the other hand, every shop in every aiport has a laugh, and so far would like to see a published comparison of their profits on everything from bottles of water to cosmetics, before and after these 'security' measures were introduced.

Actually, no need to see the accounting sheets. They can be guessed with close to 100% accuracy.